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Game of Kings, The by Dorothy Dunnett
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Game of Kings, The (1961)

by Dorothy Dunnett

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1,788503,922 (4.34)98
Member:callyperry
Title:Game of Kings, The
Authors:Dorothy Dunnett
Info:Arrow, Paperback, 640 pages
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The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961)

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English (50)  German (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett, is one of those books that have a little bit of everything. It’s a story filled with political intrigue and family drama, humor and pathos, adventure and historical accuracy. This novel is quite gripping, especially in the last few chapters, but is not afraid to meander off the path of the main plot for some funny or interesting side stories. My one caveat about the pacing is that the book can be kind of hard to get into in the beginning because a lot of names are thrown at you at once and the dialogue is peppered with French, Spanish, German and Latin quotes (the quotes aren’t necessary to understand the story, but are interesting to translate anyway).

The novel is set in 16th century Scotland during the Wars of the Rough Wooing (which is my new favorite name for a war) in which England attempted to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots. I knew nothing about this period before starting this book, and it isn’t really necessary to know more than very basic European history. For the most part, the war serves as a backdrop to the Lymond’s many escapades. Dunnett also uses the setting to discuss war in general, patriotism and tolerance.

“ It [Patriotism] is an emotion as well, and of course emotion comes first. A child’s home and the ways of its life are sacrosanct, perfect, inviolate to the child. Add age; add security; add experience. In time we all admit our relatives and our neighbours, our fellow townsmen and even, perhaps, at last our fellow nationals to the threshold of tolerance. But the man living one inch behind the boundary is an inveterate foe.”

However, Game of Kings is not at all a dry, boring book. Francis Crawford of Lymond is like a mix of Robin Hood, James Bond and Tyrion Lannister (despite their similarity in name, this book has no other relation to Game of Thrones, although that would actually be kind of awesome, now that I’m thinking about it). He’s a strategic mastermind, a polyglot, a poet, an expert swordsman and funny to boot. As he leads a bound of outlaws on adventures throughout Scotland in an attempt to clear his name, he’s hunted by his brother, Richard, for reasons that would be super spoilery to mention in this review. Richard annoyed me at first, but I came to really like him by the end of the story. His wife Mariotta, however, is another story. Excluding Mariotta, the female characters in this story were all strong and interesting. I especially loved Sybilla Crawford, the mother of Richard and Francis who should not be underestimated, and Christian Stewart, a blind girl who saves Lymond’s life.

Game of Kings was a twisty-turny, hilarious, tragic roller coaster of a book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Grade: A

Recommended for: I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes clever dialogue, adventures, swordfights, political intrigue, romance or history. So basically everyone. ( )
1 vote ashleynicole1030 | May 5, 2014 |
Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett, is one of those books that have a little bit of everything. It’s a story filled with political intrigue and family drama, humor and pathos, adventure and historical accuracy. This novel is quite gripping, especially in the last few chapters, but is not afraid to meander off the path of the main plot for some funny or interesting side stories. My one caveat about the pacing is that the book can be kind of hard to get into in the beginning because a lot of names are thrown at you at once and the dialogue is peppered with French, Spanish, German and Latin quotes (the quotes aren’t necessary to understand the story, but are interesting to translate anyway).

The novel is set in 16th century Scotland during the Wars of the Rough Wooing (which is my new favorite name for a war) in which England attempted to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots. I knew nothing about this period before starting this book, and it isn’t really necessary to know more than very basic European history. For the most part, the war serves as a backdrop to the Lymond’s many escapades. Dunnett also uses the setting to discuss war in general, patriotism and tolerance.

“ It [Patriotism] is an emotion as well, and of course emotion comes first. A child’s home and the ways of its life are sacrosanct, perfect, inviolate to the child. Add age; add security; add experience. In time we all admit our relatives and our neighbours, our fellow townsmen and even, perhaps, at last our fellow nationals to the threshold of tolerance. But the man living one inch behind the boundary is an inveterate foe.”

However, Game of Kings is not at all a dry, boring book. Francis Crawford of Lymond is like a mix of Robin Hood, James Bond and Tyrion Lannister (despite their similarity in name, this book has no other relation to Game of Thrones, although that would actually be kind of awesome, now that I’m thinking about it). He’s a strategic mastermind, a polyglot, a poet, an expert swordsman and funny to boot. As he leads a bound of outlaws on adventures throughout Scotland in an attempt to clear his name, he’s hunted by his brother, Richard, for reasons that would be super spoilery to mention in this review. Richard annoyed me at first, but I came to really like him by the end of the story. His wife Mariotta, however, is another story. Excluding Mariotta, the female characters in this story were all strong and interesting. I especially loved Sybilla Crawford, the mother of Richard and Francis who should not be underestimated, and Christian Stewart, a blind girl who saves Lymond’s life.

Game of Kings was a twisty-turny, hilarious, tragic roller coaster of a book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Grade: A

Recommended for: I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes clever dialogue, adventures, swordfights, political intrigue, romance or history. So basically everyone. ( )
  ashleynicole1030 | May 5, 2014 |
The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett has so many five star reviews that I am wondering what I am missing. I gave it almost 80 pages and I can't get into it at all. The plot doesn't seem to have any direction, I can't keep the characters straight, and I couldn't care less about the characters or what is happening to them. The distant and erudite tone of the book is strange and off-putting to me. It does not draw me in but instead makes me feel as is everything is happening far away in place and time. Each chapter jumps to a completely different scene so there has been little continuity in the storyline so far. In addition, the dialogue is full of literary and classical allusions, none of which I get, and which therefore do not draw or hold any interest for me. The positive reviews promise that in the end it is an unforgettable book, but I'm not seeing that so far and life is too short to push on reading something I'm not enjoying. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Wow. Really dense historical fiction with tons of references, characters and a game-like plot.
  karrinina | Nov 13, 2013 |
I'll be honest...this was a very difficult book to read. I think it was the edition, which looks photocopied, which is just horrible for a trade paperback version (for shame, Vintage Books). If publishers are going to be shoddy, then just release it as an ebook, for god's sake.

But I just couldn't get into the so-called dashing antihero. Also, the character expositions are explained via dialogue, which means you really have no clue who these people are. Then, the lines of dialogue are not separated, so you don't know when one character stops speaking and another has begun. Again, this could be the shoddy printing, but really badly done.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, so I could barely wait to get my hands on this volume, but it simply wasn't worth it. If I want a teleplay with dialogue, I can watch TV. These historical figures did exist and deserve so much better.

Book Season = Summer (you might want to leave it in the sand) ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
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Dorothy Dunnettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gillies, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679777431, Paperback)

Praised for her historical fiction by critics and devoted fans alike, author Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles took the romance world by storm some 30 years ago, firmly fixing Dunnett's reputation as a master of the historical romance. The Game of Kings, the first story in The Lymond Chronicles, sets the stage for what will be a sweeping saga filled with passion, courage, and the endless fight for freedom. The setting is 1547, in Edinborough, Scotland. Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to the country despite the charge of treason hanging over his head. Set on redeeming his reputation, He leads a company of outlaws against England as he fights for the country he loves so dearly. Dangerous, quick-witted, and utterly irresistible, Lymond is pure pleasure to watch as he traverses 16th-century Scotland in search of freedom. The Game of Kings is a must-have for the historical romance connoisseur.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:00 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Francis Crawford of Lymond, a notorious outlaw, returns to Scotland in 1547. He announces his arrival by setting fire to his estranged brother's castle. He then turns his attention to breaching Edinburgh's gates, which have been sealed to keep out British invaders.… (more)

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